Paxton’s Head. 153 Knightsbridge. London

One of the cheapest places to eat in Knightsbridge, this draughty pub gets a mixed clientele of office workers and Harvey Nicks shoppers; a decent range of ales on tap with a large non-gastro menu made it a tempting choice for a weeknight. However, we should’ve dug deeper in our pockets and gone elsewhere: the hamburger was pitiful, venison pie was disappointing, and the chip shop platter was merely greasy batter without much soft flaky fish within to make up for it. Only the pulled-pork nachos were passable, but the service and atmosphere are not at all conducive to a cosy pub experience.

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Tube: Knightsbridge

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Tramshed. 32 Rivington St, Shoreditch. London

Steak’n’chicken, and that’s about it. Located in a disused tram shed dating back to 1905, a gigantic Damien Hirst formaldehyde sculpture of a cow with a cock astride takes centre stage. Other YBA Saatchi-gallery artists such as Sarah Lucas have their works displayed on walls and waiters’ T-shirts too. Whole Roast chicken is served with feet and all, the Hix signature. We had the Beef Board (£55) with a selection of chateaubriand, fillet, heart and rib, perfect for two to share, and it really was pretty good. Our starter of cock’n’bull croquettes was excellent, and cocktails (Crab It While You Can!) and beers are decent, at about £9 and £6 respectively. But their sides just seem very unattractive: steamed broccoli, grilled mushrooms and unimaginative salads. No mac’n’cheese, no delectable Hawsmoor-style bone-marrow and duck-fat-drenched carby accompaniments at all. But at least their £1.25 mini chocolate cakes catered to the touch-of-sweet temptation we had with our budget.
In short, good food at a high price with very uneven service – the hostess was a curt, unfriendly poseur – but a great space to experience and hang out in, especially with a large group.

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Tube: Old Street / Liverpool Street

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Hashe8. 170 Dalston Lane. London

Delusionaryculinary doesn’t often eat out for breakfast, but made an exception in Dalston – we all make exceptions in Dalston, don’t we? This was a charming place with a great selection of well-designed dishes. We tried the Beets n’ Sweets (£8) which was beetroot slices and sweet potato on a bed of kale with two poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and the Hash Rarebit (£7) with double Gloucester cheese melted on top, bacon jam, homemade chutney and served with a green salad. Full and half English breakfasts are offered of course, as well as Belly Benedict, Pig Muffin and pancakes. Filter coffee is very good indeed – no cappuccinos or lattes here – and there are hair-of-the-dog Bloody Marys and other respectable brunch cocktails. Decor is simple and service is warm and friendly. Now if only they could serve a chai latte…

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On the Roof with Q. Selfridges rooftop, 400 Oxford St. London

Only accessible by express lift from the fragrance department on the ground floor, this long rooftop space is a welcome addition to the dearth of decent highrise restaurants in the area. Don’t expect a view, though: its design doesn’t allow a hint of the chaos below on Oxford street. The menu is exciting, even if portions and execution are just so-so. The peppered tuna was bland despite a dollop of wasabi avocado on each tile, but the violet artichoke bruschetta (steep at £8) was richer and more like a modern Spanish tapa. A side of spicy creamed corn was great as comfort food, and a small bag of Cornish hen wings (£5.50) was another dude food option as well as what looks like a decent hamburger (£13.50). But we weren’t so impressed by the dessert special which was a deconstructed chilli chocolate cheesecake with queso fresco which definitely didn’t add up to the sum of its parts.
Apparently this pop-up has been so successful that it could be here to stay past September; Selfridges shoppers must be aware though that there are better dining options in St Christopher’s Place just 50 metres away. So it seems that being up on a discrete rooftop has its charms, even though service is flaky and reception can be a little dishonest about how busy they really are – it’s bad form to lie about 5-7 week waiting lists when you have a quarter of the tables free by 3pm.
Saying that, I may be back to try their Q burger or pit-grilled ribs in the evening.

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L’Entrepôt. 230 Dalston Lane. London

We came here for a couple of bottles of wine, prosecco and some cheese plates, and we were certainly not disappointed. The ‘eastern outpost of Borough Wines’, service is quick and friendly, the converted garage space is very San Francisco, and the menu is extensive. More than anything, they’ve just managed to create a great vibe here, and I’ll be back for a full meal soon.

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Closest rail: Hackney Downs

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John Salt. 131 Upper St. London

John Salt is a large, loud and busy bar’n’restaurant towards Highbury & Islington that gets very booked up in the evening. The drinks are great and the bar staff quick and friendly; the burgers with pulled pork are perfectly cooked and the buttermilk fried chicken is finger-lickin’ good. There are two menus – one for fine(-ish) dining and one for bar food. We’re so glad we found this place by accident on a Friday night.

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Tube: Angel

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Ape & Bird. 142 Shaftesbury Avenue. London

A high-visibility spot in Cambridge Circus where Shaftesbury Avenue meets Charing Criss Road ensures that Ape and Bird (formerly the Marquis of Granby, and now owned by the Polpo group) gets a lot of passing trade as well as a steady stream of regular clients. Bottled beers (£4.50) include Camden Gentleman’s Wit and Brooklyn Lager, and their cocktails – especially the rich, cherry-muddled Old-fashioned – are served with no frills at £8 each. Service is very friendly and fairly quick.
We had the Blood Pudding Hash, Pig’s Trotters Scotch Egg and Black Face Mutton Mince with dumplings, and all three were tasty, well textured and balanced. However it is all a little on the pricey side, and though the restaurant part is pleasant to sit in, the actual pub section can get crammed and claustrophobic. There are a couple more floors, apparently, so it is a large space in a very busy area. One to pop into again for a pint and a snack.

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Tube: Tottenham Court Rd/Leicester Sq

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